Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages (1300-1530)

Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages (1300-1530)

Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages (1300-1530)

Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages (1300-1530)

Excerpt

By the end of the thirteenth century a New Europe had largely supplanted the polity and culture of the preceding age. Old Europe had been feudal in political theory and form of government, feudal in institutions, feudal in social structure, feudal in economic conditions, even feudal in philosophy and theology. For scholastic philosophy had supported the existing political system and the existing class system of feudal society. But by 1300 the social texture of Europe had become profoundly changed. New wine almost everywhere was bursting the old bottles. New economic conditions had come into being. New institutions were responding to new needs. New political and social theories were supplanting the old philosophy of the relations of men to society.

Within the short space of forty-one years, between 1250 and 1291, a volley of great events, like the concentrated fire of a battery of artillery, had crashed the régime of the high feudal age, so that everywhere in Europe the old order was crumbling. In 1250, with the death of the emperor Frederick II, the medieval empire as history had known it since the time of Charlemagne and Otto the Great, passed away. In 1268 a French prince, Charles of Anjou, conquered the former Hohenstaufen kingdom of Lower Italy and Sicily, thereby entailing a political revolution. Two years later, in 1270, Saint Louis IX of France died on the sands before Tunis. In 1273 Rudolph of Habsburg was elected emperor, terminating the Inter-regnum in Germany, and five years afterwards the victory of the Marchfeld (1278) made him possessor of Austria and founded the power of the house. In 1282 the massacre of the French in Sicily established Aragon as a maritime and Mediterranean power, and compelled an alteration of international relations in the Mediterranean. In 1291 the free peasantry of three Swiss cantons, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden united to form a more perfect union, and the history of the Swiss Confederation began, a political formation hitherto unknown to history.

While these events changed the West, in the East also there were revolutionary changes. In eastern Europe in 1261 the Greeks shook off the Latin domination which had been imposed upon the Balkan peninsula ever since the Fourth Crusade in 1204. In Asia the . . .

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